Last updated: 5 January, 2014

Iran ready to help Iraq battle Al-Qaeda

Iran’s deputy chief of staff General Mohammad Hejazi said Sunday the Islamic republic was prepared to provide military equipment and advice to Iraq to help it battle Al-Qaeda.

“If the Iraqis ask, we will supply them with equipment and advice, but they have no need of manpower,” Hejazi was cited by the official IRNA news agency as saying.

Hejazi said there had not been any request from Iraq to “carry out joint operations against the ‘takfiri’ terrorists,” a term used to describe Al-Qaeda.

Iraqi forces are preparing a major attack to retake the city of Fallujah, which has been taken over by fighters from the Al-Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which is also a major force in the rebellion against President Bashar al-Assad in neighbouring Syria.

Both Iran and Iraq are predominantly Shiite Muslim nations, and their governments have strengthened political and economic ties in recent years.

Iran is also a key ally of the Assad regime and acknowledges having sent what it calls “military advisers” to Syria, although there are claims it also has combattants there.

Al-Qaeda is a Sunni Muslim organisation that views Shiites as apostates.